Michigan Gets a ‘Naturopathy’ Bill

With the new legislative session just starting, lots and lots of new bills are being introduced in legislatures around the country. In Michigan, we’ve got a bill to license “naturophathic physicians” in the state. It’s HB 4152 and David Gorski has an article about it at Science Based Medicine.

Naturopathy is a cornucopia of almost every quackery you can think of. Be it homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, applied kinesiology, anthroposophical medicine, reflexology, craniosacral therapy, Bowen Technique, and pretty much any other form of unscientific or prescientific medicine that you can imagine, it’s hard to think of a single form of pseudoscientific medicine and quackery that naturopathy doesn’t embrace or at least tolerate. Indeed, as I’ve retorted before to apologists for naturopathy who claim that it is scientific, naturopathy can never be scientific as long as you can’t have naturopathy without homeopathy and naturopaths embrace homeopathy. Unfortunately, naturopaths have over the years been having some success in persuading state legislatures to license naturopaths, in some cases even giving them the privilege of being considered primary care practitioners…

Sadly, this is a bipartisan effort, with Lyons being the Republican half of the not-so-dynamic duo of legislators, and Ellen Cogen Lipton being the Democratic half, representing the Michigan 27th House district, which represents Detroit suburbs such as Ferndale, Royal Oak Township, Oak Park, Huntington Woods, and Hazel Park. I know some of these towns. For instance, Ferndale is known as one of the “hipper” cities in the Detroit metropolitan area; it’s not surprising to me that a Representative whose district encompasses Ferndale would be sympathetic to naturopathy to the point of being willing to make repeated attempts to pass a bill that would license naturopaths.

The bill defines naturopathy this way:


Gee, that sounds a lot like…medicine. As Gorski writes:

The wag in me can’t help but point out how stupid this definition is. Let me just put it this way. Science-based medicine relies on the natural healing capacity of individuals for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. Think about it. Setting broken bones would be useless if the body weren’t able to heal itself naturally. Surgery itself relies on the ability of the body to heal itself; otherwise cutting into the body to rearrange its anatomy for therapeutic intent would be the gravest of folly. The very definition of naturopathy is a false dichotomy between conventional medicine and “natural healing.”

There’s a lot more in his article, I urge you to read the whole thing.

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  • Sastra

    “Alternative medicine” reminds me of “spirituality.” They’re deepities which trade on superficial similarities. Each term deliberately co-opts natural, reasonable things and claims them as defining aspects … sneaking in supernatural, unreasonable things as part of the package. Thus alt med works with the body’s “natural healing process” — and extends the immune system to bizarre lengths. Spirituality is about love and joy and appreciation — and souls and magic and a moral force behind the universe.


  • blf

    Why do I suspect Orac will also weigh in…

  • baal

    I wouldn’t mind ‘naturopathy’ being sought out for entertainment or comfort benefits but the folks who do it may skip out on actual doctor visits. That displacement effect is not harm neutral.

  • I was at a party at a friends house some years back; one of his guests, the wife of someone I knew fairly well, was sitting across from me. She noticed me massaging my right hand and, around the base of the thumb and asked me if it hurt. I said that it did and that it was the family curse, arthritis. She told me that she did Reikki and asked me if I believed in such things. My reply was that I believe in anything that works. She then asked if she could hold my hand and see if there were “healing energies” to utilizle. I said, “Yeah, sure, whatever” and she took my hand between here hands and sat quietly for a few moments.

    I have no idea how it happened, but my hand suddenly became VERY warm, not painful but well above anything I would consider normal. I reflexively pulled my hand back and she asked if I had been hurt. I told her what I had felt and that it had not been painful, simply surprising. She asked if the thumb joint area still hurt, It did not and really has not since then. She then asked if my other hand also bothered me and when I said that it did, she repeated the process–with no discernible effect.

    I am stumped completely as to what occurred that evening, but it certainly had nothing to do with my spiritual purity. The entire time she held my hand I was thinking that she was a hottie and that her husband was only A friend, not a BEST friend! ;>)

    Chiropractic is a practice that is loaded with some pretty good people doing great things and a fuckton of charlatants promising everything from the ability to help people stop smoking to curing cancer. I went to a series of chiropractors (all in the same practice) over a period of five or six years and they often gave me symptomatic relief. However, NONE of them ever ordered the x-rays or the MRI that showed the ruptured discs in my back (L2-L3) and my neck (C4-C7). The neck got fixed five and a half years ago. The lower back is not grreat but doesn’t appear to require surgery. The neurosurgeon who did my neck said I could go to all the DO’s and Chiropractors I wanted to but, and a very definite “but”, to never let them “adjust” me.

  • rork

    Don’t give Chiros so much credit. What little they do that is effective, is the same stuff legitimate health care people would do, the rest is quackery.

    I also highly recommend http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org.

    Quackery is a serious problem.

    Letting them win ground is a public harm, for both health, and monetarily.

    Education and skepticism are essential armor. Gird yourself.

  • bryanfeir
  • Knabb


    Orac and David Gorski are the same person. The link Bryanfeir provided goes to an article that has text content identical to the one provided by Ed, and Orac’s blog contains an “about me” section that notes that his name is David Gorski.

  • Crudely Wrott

    I can reproduce the effect of chiropractic treatment by reclining on my bed or on the floor with a small pillow placed strategically under my back. After a few moments of relaxation, or sometimes almost immediately, there will be an audible “pop” or “snap”.

    At once there is a sensation of relaxation and a noticeable reduction of pain that propagates downward from the origin of the noise. It really does feel good.

    It’s very much like the spreading warmth a shot of good whiskey brings. And, like the warmth of the dram, the relief of the pillow’s ministration is lost within a very short time. Too short, truth be told. Neither heal though both may comfort for a welcome moment. Both are also priced above their practical value.

  • cry4turtles

    I’m no fan of chiropractors. I would not allow one to touch me; however, when my hubby was experiencing extreme pain from a bad hernia surgery, we were referred to one. This man was very sincere and (surprisingly) not a quack. He explained his limitations in detail and only tried a few adjustments before he told us my husband’s pain was out of his league. I was pleased with his service, and his honesty prompted me to quit pussyfooting around with local yokels and find a doctor who was qualified to help. Not all are bad eggs.